BLOOMINGTON, Minn. – This Super Bowl MVP trophy and career reset will buy Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles more than anyone could have imagined in the coming year. A trip to Disneyland. An extra $112,000 in championship winnings. Surely some endorsement cachet. And of course, a Super Bowl ring.
But it can’t buy Foles’ future as the Philadelphia Eagles’ starting quarterback. If there was any serious question about that, head coach Doug Pederson all but ended the speculation Monday when talking about injured starter Carson Wentz.
“I had a chance to talk to Carson actually on the field, on the podium, last night after the game, and [I] just told him to take this in, just enjoy this moment,” Pederson said. “He’s a great quarterback, and he’s a big reason [we were here]. I told him, ‘You’re a big, big part of why this team won this championship and won this game.’ I told him that hopefully we’ll be back in this game with him leading the way.”
Pressed further about what will happen with Foles and Wentz going forward, Pederson couldn’t exit the podium quickly enough.
“I knew I couldn’t get off the stage without that question,” he said. “You know what? We’re just going to enjoy this moment. I’m going to tell you right now: We’re going to enjoy it. We’re going get on this plane and go back to Philadelphia, and we’re going to celebrate with our fans back in Philly. We’ve got a long offseason, really a short offseason now. We’re just going to enjoy this moment. … I’m happy for Nick [Foles]. I’m happy for the team. It’s not about one guy. It’s about the team. We’re going to enjoy these next few days.”
While that’s far short of saying “Nick Foles is on the trading block,” the language says enough to know what’s ahead. You don’t win a Super Bowl and then tell the media that you spoke to Wentz and told him, “Hopefully we’ll be back in this game with [you] leading the way.” Or “I’m happy for Nick” followed by “It’s not about one guy.”
There’s no shame in anything Pederson said. This is reality. From the start, this team was going back to Wentz regardless of what Foles did. Only a dramatic hiccup in Wentz’s recovery from knee injury could have changed that. And there’s no indication of worry from the Eagles on that front. But make no mistake: this presents several interesting wrinkles for Pederson and the Eagles.
What will the team do if there is a solid trade offer on the table for Foles and still uncertainty about whether Wentz will be available for the first game of the season? Is there enough faith that Nate Sudfeld can elevate and hold down the job until Wentz returns? And what kind of trade compensation would be required for the Eagles to take that kind of risk?
How will Wentz react to the pressure of stepping back in and replacing what turned out to be a Super Bowl MVP quarterback? He shouldered the expectations of being the No. 2 overall draft pick well, playing at an MVP level and earning his Super Bowl ring in the regular season by leading the Eagles to an 10-2 record prior to injury. But in terms of hitting stride in a perfect Super Bowl stretch run, Foles’ three-game performance in the postseason was Joe Flacco-esque. He posted passer ratings of 100.1, 141.4 and 106.1 and dropped 725 passing yards, six touchdowns and only one interception against the Minnesota Vikings and New England Patriots.
By the time the Super Bowl had come to a close Sunday night, Foles was functioning at a peak level and operating with the entire Eagles playbook open for him. That’s not the stuff of a backup quarterback. As offensive coordinator Frank Reich said, that’s a guy who deserves to be one of the NFL’s 32 starting quarterbacks. And knowing the hot-skillet trading penchant of general manager Howie Roseman, it’s very likely Foles will be just that next season – one of the NFL’s other starting quarterbacks.
“I’m not really worried about my future right now,” Foles said Monday. “I’m grateful to be a part of the Philadelphia Eagles. I said when I signed with the Eagles: I’m grateful and content in this moment. Well, I’m staying in the moment. … There will be a time and a place to handle all that. I take a lot of pride in wearing the Philadelphia Eagles jersey and I just enjoy being here. Such a great team. I’m excited for Carson Wentz coming back healthy. I work with him every day. Dude is a stud, and I’m just living in the moment.”
That’s the right attitude. But this is the NFL. When the new league year starts in March, championship moments are forced to pass. So the time and place to talk about Foles’ next destination is coming. It’s just a matter of getting the Super Bowl parade in the books and Roseman heading to the scouting combine to open trade talks.
Nick Foles’ Super Bowl MVP has bought him more than anyone could have imagined. From money to acclaim and a new outlook on his career and skills. But it won’t buy him the top of the quarterback depth chart in Philadelphia. And you needed to only hear Doug Pederson on Monday to understand that.
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